Blues-Penguins Preview

The St. Louis Blues had one of their best defensive showings in nearly two weeks last time out but that was against one of the league's weaker teams.

They would appear to have a greater challenge in Wednesday night's visit to Pittsburgh but the star-laden Penguins haven't proved consistent scorers for much of this season, especially in their past few games.

St. Louis' 2-1 win in Buffalo marked the first time it had given up fewer than two goals since back-to-back shutouts Nov. 7 and 10. The Blues (14-6-2) let their opponents score a combined 21 times in their previous six games.

Despite that improved effort, they still needed third-period goals from Troy Brouwer and Robby Fabbri to avoid a third consecutive road loss. Fabbri tallied the tiebreaker with 6:34 remaining.

"We just wanted to make sure that guys were feeling good about themselves and guys were making good plays. Because when you're down on yourself, that's when you're not making good plays and you don't have your head up," Brouwer said. "That's the mentality we want in this room."

St. Louis will next face Pittsburgh superstars Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin among others. The Penguins, though, aren't too far ahead of the Sabres' 2.05 goals per game, averaging 2.20.

Pittsburgh recorded a pair of 4-3 victories to open a four-game homestand but lost 3-1 to San Jose on Saturday. Kessel's second-period score snapped a personal five-game drought.

Prior to its homestand, Pittsburgh (12-8-0) totaled one goal in back-to-back losses.

"I thought we had some good scoring chances but for me, it was all about those second-chance opportunities," coach Mike Johnston said. "We had a couple but not nearly as many as we've had the last few games."

The Blues have often contained the Penguins over the past seven meetings, allowing a combined 11 goals while going 5-1-1. St. Louis has won three straight in Pittsburgh, including a 3-2 overtime victory in the latest visit March 24.

"They're a big, strong, solid team. They play really good team D," forward Matt Cullen said. "They're one of the top teams in the league and they have a lot of guys who can hurt you offensively. So for us, it's a really good challenge."

St. Louis' Vladimir Tarasenko has six goals and three assists in his last seven games, but he has been limited to two assists in three career matchups against Pittsburgh. Tarasenko is among the league leaders with 13 goals.

"The thing that he can do on the ice are unbelievable. He skates; he shoots; he's strong; he makes plays," Cullen said. "For us, he's a guy that we're going to have to be aware of. There's a lot of guys like that in the league but he's one of the very, very best."

The Blues are the only team Crosby has never scored against in his career, tallying five assists in 10 lifetime meetings. The Penguins captain has one goal and one assist in his last five overall contests.

Malkin has no goals and four assists in his past six matchups. Kessel has three goals and five assists in 10 career meetings but just two assists in a personal four-game losing streak versus the Blues.

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